The 22-year-old's positional awareness has being the subject of intense debate amongst Arsenal blogs and forums alike. A lot of people notice the frailties of a defense-inclined player only when a mistake or two amounts to the team's failure. Those who are keen on beating some transfer sense into Arsene Wenger this summer with regards to buying a mythical bully - possibly made of steel and grit need to look closely at home where a finished product in the person of Denilson is set to take the center stage. They believe a big club like Arsenal shouldn't employ sound reasoning when buying or relegating it stars. They've got every right to complain I whine a lot too, but I don't think it is necessary to witch-hunt a player who is clearly one of the best for the position in question as far as, the club is concerned.
For goodness sake, the duo's duty in The Arsenal's defensive midfield set up revolves around the traditional idea of maintaining your forte; Intercepting quickly and ensuring the ball is immediately moved to the more versatile players (through the process of passing i.e long or short), who have the ability to advance into the opponent's danger zone. The resultant effect of the pass depends solely on the player's dominant foot and positioning at the time of the interception and this invariably makes Denilson a fit match in respect to any proven star out there.
Alex Song's strength and power keeps us at par with the Premiership's disruptive elements, while Denilson's technicality and calmness are invaluable to the team when we play against sides with little or no propensity to dominate. Pardon my comparative tone, but I guess we must distinguish between being conspicuous and working in the shadows during matches to reach an acceptable conclusion.
The manager installed Denilson and Song last season as the midfield's last resort in case of emergencies which is in tandem with the general consensus of having an immediate player track back to ensure the effectiveness of the defense in readiness for any kind of blitz. Just like the typical DM, our Brazilian boy roams the width of the defense between two center backs (Vermaelen & Koscielny), and the attacking midfielders with a view to reducing the flow of an incoming attack by applying a good amount of pressure on the ball via the launching of well-timed tackles. The only problem I see in this type of arrangement is that of division of labour. Keeping your opponents at bay requires cohesion and team work. Inasmuch as, every player is entitled to man his position, I think if the whole team could afford to offer periodic assistance to Denilson and Song, then the fragile Almunia will be saved the embarassment of regularly picking the ball out of his net.
The logical argument of being a professional comes to the fore, but fatigue and other problems usually creep in to compound issues so it's pertinent to note what his duties on the pitch are. Lets take a look at some fantastic stats and you'd probably see why I rate Denilson in Song's category. Although the stats don't prove everything they still provide us with an in depth analysis on their past and current performance which can be figuratively compared and contrasted.
¤Denilson played 26 games in all competitions for Arsenal last season - Song played 10 games more.
¤Commited 37 fouls and suffered 58 fouls - Song commited 86 fouls and suffered 61 fouls.
¤Denilson was cautioned thrice in 26 games - Song took no prisoners and ensured the safety of the defense in exchange for 13 yellow cards in 36 matches. The duo are yet to receive outright marching orders from an officiator during a professional encounter.
Denilson's accuracy per shot last season can be compared with that of Vermaelen. He created one assist and had 24 shots to his name last season; 11 were on target, and 5 resulted in goals. Song wasn't lucky up front, apart from creating 2 assists, he took 20 shots and managed to trouble the goalie with 5 efforts resulting in one goal.
Some conclusions can be drawn from the above comparison; Denilson has the ability to move forward especially when we are in control of possession. He lurks around the attacking line, collecting and utilising rebounds. Song tends to like the idea sometimes, but given his Makelele style of doing things he happily forgoes any opportunity to venture forward which is natural given the fact that Denilson was converted to the DM role here at Arsenal to fill his predecessor's boots. Denilson isn't getting the praise he deserves because we tend to judge him based on our perceptions of his senior interceptors e.g M. Flamini and Gilberto Silva.
Denilson has the potential to be bigger than the aforementioned stoppers, if you doubt me ask Wenger.